‘One does not remember the grilled hamburgers and the frozen peas, but the strawberries that come in May and June straight from the fields, the asparagus of a special occasion, kippers from Craster in July and August, the first lamb of the year from Wales, in October the fresh walnuts from France where they are eaten with new cloudy wine. This is good food.’
Jane Grigson was one of the great pioneers of 20th-century cookery writing. Drawing on her northern-English heritage, her European travels and her natural curiosity and love of food, she opened our eyes to the glories of traditional cuisine.
Grigson’s talents reach their pinnacle in Good Things. First published in 1971, it is a wonderful collection of recipes gathered from all corners of Britain and Europe that emphasise time-honoured recipes and seasonal ingredients. Here are grilled venison chops, Cheshire pork and apple pie, chicory salad, pea and ham soup, walnut biscuits, asparagus au gratin and her famous curried parsnip soup. Each chapter focuses on a different ingredient – from rabbit and pigeon to haricot beans and sweet carrots – with a short preamble mixing personal reminiscence, fascinating culinary history and references to writers from Shakespeare to Colette. There are also digressions on such matters as catching snails for cooking and the Greek and Roman uses for parsley.
Writing in the Independent, the food writer Alan Davidson said that ‘Jane Grigson left to the English-speaking world a legacy of fine writing on food and cookery for which no exact parallel exists… She won to herself this wide audience because she was above all a friendly writer … the most companionable presence in the kitchen’. Above all, Grigson’s recipes are practical, varied and always delicious. In an age of increasing appreciation of local, seasonal food, her knowledge is more precious than ever, and there has never been a better time to discover her gifts.
‘[Jane Grigson’s books] belong with the masterpieces of Eliza Acton and Elizabeth David – books to live with and learn from; to keep among the pots and pans, for ever’